It’s time for change, not politics as usual.
As your State Representative:
1. I will introduce a bill requiring that oil and gas producers clean, recycle, and reuse their wastewater on site, or as close to the well as practical. Technology exists that makes this possible, and cost-effective. Colorado is an arid state, and climate forecasts indicate this will only get worse. We do not have enough water to dump it in deep holes and risk earthquakes and contamination.
2. I will oppose any attempt to weaken the air pollution rules adopted recently.
3. I will support legislation that makes sure that local governments have the right to regulate fracking through zoning laws, the same as other businesses. Local governments, or the people by initiative or referendum, should have the right to establish setbacks or prohibit fracking from certain neighborhoods in the same manner that they prohibit locating a bar, pot shop, or factory next to a school. Local government should be allowed to establish other reasonable controls that do not unreasonably infringe on mineral rights without just compensation.
4. I will oppose any legislation that would totally ban fracking, but I will work hard to make sure it is done safely or not at all.
5. I will support legislation that puts the cost burden on oil and gas companies, not the taxpayers, land-owners (if not the oil company), or local communities, for clean-up of spills and other environmental problems caused by fracking or extraction of oil, gas, or other minerals.
Natural gas is beneficial to Colorado’s economy and important for the national security of the United States. Fracking, if done properly, is a cost-effective way of providing natural gas and oil. It is neither realistic nor good policy to advocate a total ban on fracking. A total ban on fracking requires compensating the owners of the mineral rights. The State does not have enough money to do that.
However, fracking, if done irresponsibly, can be disastrous for our environment, air quality, and scarce drinking water. We do not want a fracking mishap to become Colorado’s Flint. We must do everything we can to ensure that fracking is safe for our air, water, soil and especially our health. People must come before profits.
The state must ensure that any mining, including fracking, doesn’t contaminate our air, water, and soil. Colorado has enacted the some of toughest air quality rules for the gas and oil industry in the nation, but that is a relatively low bar. We need to make sure those rules are enforced, that they work, and we must not bow to industry pressure to weaken or repeal them. Most of the problems surrounding fracking come from dumping dirty, toxic wastewater into deep wells in the ground. These pose a risk for contamination of our groundwater, and these disposal wells can cause earthquakes. Texas, Illinois, and Oklahoma are finding that out. The recent earthquake in Weld County is believed to be a result of fracking. Transporting toxic waste-water to these disposal sites exposes the public to risk from a spill.
By stopping the disposal of waste in deep wells and requiring recycling, we will eliminate many of the environmental risks and therefore, much of the opposition to fracking which comes from the fear of contamination of our environment.
If we allow oil and gas producers to ignore public health and the environment, we will nullify any environmental gains achieved from burning natural gas. The costs to public health will exceed the taxes paid to local governments by frackers. If we insist on sensible and reasonable regulation, fracking will be a net benefit to Colorado — but only if we insist on safe practices.